While Alan attended the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatrists meeting in Honolulu recently, I spent my days writing, and from our balcony, I could see three snowy white pigeons far below, roosting in the park just across from Waikiki Beach. They rose and dived with grace and apparent ease, flitting and fluttering on the breezes. I watched them soar joyously in the bright morning sunshine and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to fly like a bird?!” In Hawaii, it’s warm and humid, so people practically live outside. They also keep their doors open as much as possible, and we were no exception. The sliding glass doors on our balcony were open almost all the time, bringing in balmy air until our entire hotel room felt like a bit of private, outdoor paradise…literally 50° warmer than the freezing air had been in Michigan when we left! Having a six-hour EST (Eastern Standard Time) advantage, we woke up well before sunrise every morning and sipped tea while enjoying leisurely devotional times together. After prayer and Bible reading, we enjoyed breakfast. Most mornings it was granola and bananas, but this particular morning we had garnered some legendary malasadas (Portuguese, custard-filled donuts) from Honolulu’s most famous bakery: Leonard’s. We relished the rosy sunrise, and then Alan began washing up before leaving for his conference. I made a cup of Jasmine tea in preparation for settling down to write. To my delight and surprise, I found that not only had I been admiring the birds, they had apparently been admiring us too…or at least our breakfasts! Apparently a crumb or two had fallen under the table, which one pigeon quickly devoured, and another pigeon came inside to check us out!
I wonder, do pigeons watch humans and think about they way we sit down with apparent ease and feast on a lovely breakfast just the way I admire their ability to flutter on the breezes? It’s all too natural to see and long for the advantages of others while not considering the difficulties of their lives. The pigeons on Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach scavenge hard to find enough to eat, and they coo contentedly when they discover a few drops of fresh water in the cracks of sidewalks! Is it possible they say to themselves, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to eat like a human?!” It’s perfectly normal to notice and admire what others do well—great writers, artists, scientists, orators, doctors, lawyers…Indian chiefs. Do you find yourself admiring some wonderful ability that another person possesses? I certainly do. And yet, would I really like to be the person I admire? My guess is that if I knew everything about that person, the difficulties in his life and the challenges he faces, I would be content to be myself. On the other hand, if we admire someone else enough, perhaps it will motivate us to work harder to become the best we can be! What do you think? Ready to be content, or are you ready to make the sacrifices to be something more? I gather from the scripture that God wants us to be content with the outward circumstances which are beyond our control: “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11), but I think He wants us never to be content with where we are spiritually: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:8-14, emphasis mine).